Mindfulness & meditation are buzzwords becoming more and more popular in school settings, especially as interventions for challenging behaviours that would typically send a student to detention.
Although they can sound like elusive or lofty concepts, you don’t need to be a yogi or expert mediator to bring these practices to life in your classroom. Here are some simple tips for encouraging mindful responses vs. disruptive reactions from your students.
Teach them the ‘Gimme 5’ breath. Holding one hand up, have them trace up and down their fingers with their opposite hand, inhaling as they travel up a finger, exhaling as they travel down. Deep breathing techniques like this one are calming and easy to practice anywhere, any time.
Designate a ‘Mindful Space’ in your classroom and equip it with simple, sensory calming tools like stress balls, eye pillows or sand timers. Students can visit this space whenever they need a moment to return to calm.
Your ‘Mindful Space’ could also have items like earmuffs or sunglasses to reduce sensory stimuli and help better calm the nervous system.
Print pictures of yoga poses and breathing techniques and post them in a space your students can see and practice them.
Encourage students to express themselves through drawing or journaling instead of bottling up (or blowing up) uncomfortable emotions. Colouring Mandalas are also great for achieving calm through creative expression.
Whenever a student needs time in the ‘Mindful Space’, be sure to encourage them to talk about what brought them there, and how they feel afterwards. Use this time as an opportunity to connect and learn how to better support them.
The first (and potentially most important) step to sharing mindfulness or meditation with your students is establishing a practice for yourself. Consider trying the tips to see which ones help you so that you can share from a place of experience!
Lisa Clarke is a Registered Yoga Teacher who specializes in Children’s and Family Yoga. Her mission is to instill a love of mindful movement in the young and young at heart through her company laLa wellness. You can check out her YouTube channel for weekly kids yoga and mindfulness videos, and connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’d love to hear about how these tips helped you create a Mindful Space in your classroom!